The Minister of Tourism, Telmo Correia, has placed all his bets on golf as far as the future of Portugal as a tourism destination is concerned.At a press conference in Vilamoura, over which he presided, it was announced that the Victoria Course is to stage the country’s second most important international golf tournament, after the Portuguese Open, the World Golf Cup, in November 2005 and 2006.
Portugal will join Argentina, Japan, Mexico and the US in hosting the competition. In all, 24 countries will compete for four million euros in prize money, and the Vilamoura competition will be unique in so far as it will be the only one that will have pairs competing.
It has been revealed that the Algarve World Cup represents a financial commitment of 12.4 million euros, 75 per cent of which will be underwritten by the government. In total, the state has pledged to invest 47.4 million euros in the country’s
golf sector, 35 million euros of which has been earmarked for the construction of 14 new courses nationwide.
The initiative is aimed at giving Portugal’s image as a golf destination, which is seen to have further growth potential, a major boost. At last week’s signing ceremony between the Ministry of Tourism, the regional tourist board (RTA), the Estoril Chamber of Commerce and the combined Algarve, Vilamoura and Arade Golf initiative, Telmo Correia justified the unheard of expenditure by pointing to the 350 million euros generated annually by golf, which also accounts for over one million hotel beds each year.
Vilamoura remained in the spotlight last week, as the Portuguese Automobile Club (ACP) presented its candidature to rejoin the World Rally Championship in 2007, ahead of the current penultimate European stage in Barcelona.
Sources close to the organisation committee have revealed that Vilamoura will form the focal point of a largely Algarve-based race, as the region offers all the natural terrain required to attract a World Championship stage.